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Back where it belongs: missing March whalebone is restored to its partner



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A little bit of a town's history was put back where it belongs at the weekend with the help of some local re-enactors.

A whalebone, dating back to the 1860s and part of a pair erected on Dartford Road in Victorian times, was re-instated alongside its mate on Saturday morning.

The bone, which had been missing from what is known locally as Whalebone Corner since it was removed to allow Phillips Chase to be widened, had been laying in a builder's yard for the past 30 odd years.

March's missing whalebone returned to the junction of Phillips Chase and Swanley Gardens on Dartford Road. (55136301)
March's missing whalebone returned to the junction of Phillips Chase and Swanley Gardens on Dartford Road. (55136301)

The Tyers family, who previously owned the land on which the whalebones stood, had kept the missing bone in their builder's yard in Phillips Chase and the current owner Guy Tyers said: "We always lived on that corner of Dartford Road, my dad, Gordon and uncle Colin, had always intended to put the whalebone back up, but just never got round to doing it before my dad died in 2020.

"We have had to sort out his bungalow and the yard around it where the whalebone had been lying since it was taken down sometime around 1990. That meant it had to be moved and I thought rather simply moving it and putting it somewhere else the best thing to do would be to put it back up with the other one.

"I approached the person who now owns 68 Dartford Road, Bob Bagshaw, and asked if we could put it on his land, and he was happy for us to do it. The person who has the other one in their garden had been thinking about taking it down, as they didn't realise what it was and had even approached Fenland District Council about it.

March's missing whalebone returned to the junction of Phillips Chase and Swanley Gardens on Dartford Road. (55136301)
March's missing whalebone returned to the junction of Phillips Chase and Swanley Gardens on Dartford Road. (55136301)

"I think they thought it was something like a lump of concrete, but as soon as they realised what it was and heard we were restoring the other one they were happy to keep it.

"I think my dad would have been really delighted to see it put back up, so it is a fitting memorial to him in a way. It was really nice as well to have Colin Bedford and his friends come along dressed as Victorians to make it more of a special thing."

Colin explained: "The whalebones were brought in to March by train and then transported by horse and cart to what was originally a ginger beer factory owned by Frank Phillips known as Ever Sparkle, which eventually became the Tyers family's builder's yard.

The whalebone is brought to the site.
The whalebone is brought to the site.

"I believe his brother was a sea captain of a whaling ship and had caught the whale and then shipped the bones to his brother, who put them at the entrance to the factory.

"It is really great to see them back where they belong on Whalebone Corner."

Standing proud - the whalebones have been reunited.
Standing proud - the whalebones have been reunited.
Colin Bedford and his fellow re-enactors dressed as Victorians to help celebrate the return of the whalebone.
Colin Bedford and his fellow re-enactors dressed as Victorians to help celebrate the return of the whalebone.
March's missing whalebone returned to the junction of Phillips Chase and Swanley Gardens on Dartford Road. (55136301)
March's missing whalebone returned to the junction of Phillips Chase and Swanley Gardens on Dartford Road. (55136301)


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